I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for trendy fitness classes. Sixty calorie-torching minutes of sweating in a heated yoga studio to a themed playlist of “Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera” sounds like my personal heaven. Boutique fitness facilities are popping up on every corner of metropolitan cities because they make physical activity fun by fostering a sense of community and belonging wrapped inside a luxurious, spa-like package. But let’s be realistic; while these classes make up 35% of the US exercise market, they only cater to a small, exclusive segment of folks with fat wallets and flat stomachs. As these studios have increased in popularity, so have health disparities between high- and low-income individuals due to a lack of access to safe, affordable physical activity in underserved neighborhoods.
Hands to Heart Center and I believe that yoga should be “accessible, culturally competent, welcoming, and enjoyable for all bodies, all fitness levels, and all styles of learning.” This nonprofit organization shares the healing practices of yoga with people affected by addiction, poverty, and trauma by connecting them with trauma-informed yoga instructors who provide free community classes in vulnerable populations. Hands to Heart Center’s community yoga teachers have provided over 1,000 customized yoga classes to promote healing, increase capacity, and develop resilience since the organization was founded in 2014. So far, they have shared classes in branch libraries, community centers, detention units, domestic violence shelters, high-poverty schools, homeless shelters, public housing developments and residential treatment programs in Boston.
If you’re a non-profit organization or high-poverty school that’s interested in requesting a customized yoga class series, if you’re a yoga studio or business that would like to sponsor HTHC’s work to bring yoga to the people, or if you simply want to learn more about how you can support this cause, click this link.